What if the solution to Washington… wasn’t in Washington? The 50 states could be America’s secret weapon against an ever-expanding federal government. States can amend the constitution to demand fiscal responsibility in Washington, can request that federal regulation comply with local ordinances, and can form interstate compacts to better protect constitutional rights. The Goldwater Institute is providing a roadmap for states to reassert their power under the Tenth Amendment.
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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: A Review of Arizona’s Fiscal Transparency EffortsPosted on July 15, 2014 | Type: In the News | Author: Byron Schlomach
Arizona government entered modern financial transparency in 2008 when the legislature approved the launch of the Arizona Open Books website. When the website came online in 2011, the state essentially opened its checkbook by posting individual transactions to the web. This report assesses the usefulness of Arizona’s Open Books website and reveals questionable financial transactions. The Arizona Open Books website proved useful in exposing some suspicious transactions, but transparency in Arizona still needs improvement. We were able to use the website to find wasteful spending on nearly $2.5 million worth of “Awards” and another $1 million on “Entertainment and Promotional” items in 2013. But the site did not provide sufficient detail to assess the legitimacy of suspicious transactions lumped into catch-all codes like “Other Professional Outside Services,” which totaled $289 million in 2013 alone. The bottom line is that while most of the state’s individual expenditures are posted for public scrutiny, it is still possible for waste, fraud, and abuse to hide in plain sight due to vague or cryptic descriptions of individual expenditures. Curious taxpayers are treated to accounting codes and code descriptions that often bear little resemblance to the purpose for which funds are expended. In addition, payroll abuses can be hidden because payroll is kept secret under current law even though public employee salaries are subject to open records. If Arizona’s state government is to be truly transparent, each transaction posted on Arizona Open Books needs an accompanying memo line to give citizens accurate descriptions of the specific purpose of each transaction. Sourcing of expenditures should be provided as well. Finally, specific details about the public payroll should be a centerpiece of Arizona Open Books.
Public Money for Private Gain: Legal Strategies to End Taxpayer-Funded Union Activism and Pension SpikingPosted on May 12, 2014 | Type: Report
Numerous states are shaking off decades-old union shackles that have dampened job growth, weighed down economies, and created fiscal crises. The rust-belt states of Michigan and Indiana are the latest to convert to right-to-work states, putting them on a better footing for economic growth. While private sector unions are shrinking, public sector unions aren’t retreating quietly, however. Public employee unions play an outsized role in electing state and local officials with whom they then typically bargain behind closed doors over wages and benefits. These unions are leveraging that power to push back against right to work and implement policies known as release time and pension spiking.
The States Didn’t Start the Fire Sale—But They Can Put It Out.Posted on March 18, 2014 | Type: Blog | Author: Nick Dranias
The writing is on the wall for Washington’s unsustainable debt-fueled fiscal policy. Just last week, the Telegraph reported that central banks commenced a worldwide “fire sale” of $106 billion in U.S. Treasuries. And yet, there is no leadership from the beltway to fix the national debt. Instead, last month, the federal statutory debt limit was suspended yet again.
Compact For A Balanced BudgetPosted on November 20, 2013 | Type: Article
49 states have a balanced budget requirement or debt limit. They are far from perfect, but they keep most States out of the situation faced by the federal government—which borrows nearly 50 cents of every dollar spent. It is time we learn from the States. Based on what debt limits have worked best in the States over 150 years of trial and error, the Compact for America approach to Article V amendments advances a powerful Balanced Budget Amendment that will finally bring sanity to the federal government's finances. An interstate compact provides the vehicle to advance the BBA because it transforms the otherwise cumbersome state-initiated amendment process under Article V of the United States Constitution into a “turn-key” operation.
Strassel: Driving Dick DurbinPosted on October 31, 2013 | Type: In the News
The Illinois senator targets the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose reform proposals hit trial lawyers in the pocketbook.